In a massive democratic set-up like ours, the significance of voting is manifold. It ensures that the supreme power is vested in the hands of people like you and me, and provides us an enormous opportunity to bring down a government that goes against the citizens’ good will and elect a new government to work as their representatives. The system of voting gives people the ability to voice their opinions and have a valid representation in the governance of the country. Every vote can help strengthen our democracy and prevent the country from being exploited by politicians with vested interests. The educated voters have a significant role to play in such a set-up, as they can make informed choices based on the education and awareness that they have been exposed to. However, it is quite unfortunate that many of even this educated lot avoid voting for various reasons; some take the voting day to be a holiday, others abstain from voting since they aren’t aware of the candidates and their backgrounds well enough to vote for them. Such a condition would only pave way for politicians to extract votes by unfair means, which would ultimately damage the very idea of a democracy.
One year of being under the President’s rule, India’s political nucleus is gearing up for a fresh round of Assembly elections on the 7th of February. With parties like BJP and AAP ferociously campaigning across the capital and the Congress trying to slither back to power, it is imperative for us to realize the heightened need to vote in such a volatile political environment.
Delhi Assembly Elections 2013 saw a historical victory of the newly born Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) overthrowing the Congress which held its seat for a good 15 years. AAP chief Arvind Kejriwal took over as the Chief Minister of Delhi, only to resign 49 days later, keeping the Delhi Assembly in suspended animation. The resignation evoked a mixed response from the people; some considered the failure inevitable while others went in a state of shock of having their expectations crumbled. Taking advantage of the situation, the BJP in its recent rally at Ramlila Maidan accused AAP to be inconsistent and incapable of delivering what it promised, and appealed diligently to the people in Delhi to not vote for such parties. It also made promises like 24/7 electricity across the city with people having a choice to select their power service provider, and better residential flats, water and health facilities for the slum dwellers. On the other hand, AAP is reaching out to people by assuring them of better law and order in the city, bringing down violence against women by deploying security guards and swift action against corruption prevalent in Delhi. In such a situation in which the electoral battlefield is pretty convulsive and the state is neck down in rampant corruption, widespread sexual violence against women and children, and other heinous crimes, it is of paramount importance for us to scrutinize the candidates with extreme caution and express our participation by bringing the deserving candidates to power.
The consequences of not voting can be quite disastrous in the long run. Although MLA candidates having criminal records in their affidavits isn’t news to us citizens, it has grown to be quite a nuisance. As per a study done by three NGOs in the Lok Sabha elections held in 2014, namely Association for Democratic Reforms, Action for Good Governance and Networking in India, and Mumbai Votes , 798 of the 2,336 candidates declared criminal cases in their affidavits, 537 of whom have serious charges like murder, kidnapping, promoting communal disharmony and crimes against women against them. Refraining from voting essentially increases the chances of such candidates misleading the illiterate/uneducated masses with false assurances or threatening them with dire consequences if the votes are not collected in their favour, as a result of which the undeserving and potentially dangerous candidates sweep away the seats in various constituencies. Other dishonest means adopted by the candidates like manipulating the EVM and bogus voting are quite prevalent in the nation, which could only be prevented when the educated masses work to create awareness, take a stand, and decide to make their vote count.
The current circumstances in the capital have made people more aware of their needs and demands than ever , and they are quite dissatisfied with the inefficient governance in the past. However, this should not prevent us from coming out on the streets and exercising our power in the elections, since it is our prime responsibility as citizens of India to have a say in what should constitute the matters of importance by voting for the candidate we deem fit for the purpose. The need of the hour demands that the people leave behind the comfort of their homes, make informed decisions and help bring about change.